After five days of continuous Chemo, I was finally released from Prentice Hospital. At 7:00 p.m the night before, I packed my bags, tidied up my room, and stared deeply into the big bad city. I wondered how would I feel when released? Would my senses be on overload? Would everything smell, taste and feel different? How would my in-patient stay affect my daily perspective? Was I ready for independence again? Was I ready both physically and emotionally to come home? Could I handle life outside these four walls?
After being hooked up for five days, ones sense of independence is drastically compromised. My Chemo machine became an additional appendage, one that I didn't ask for- but had no choice but to deal with. Every hour I was watched, monitored, and observed. When it came time to be discharged, I started to wonder if my body would be able to function on its own? Could I manage my symptoms and listen to my body's internal dialogue without the help of others?
It wasn't until I arrived home, took a long shower, and got tucked into bed, that I realized I was experiencing post-traumatic stress. I was unsure of how to exist in this space between the hospital and home. I was not comfortable in either place and somehow was forced to exist in this land of in between.
The level of terror I felt at home was paralyzing. I sat in the kitchen with my dad, and stared out into space. I couldn't stop weeping. I was terrified that my body would respond violently to the effects of Chemo and that I wouldn't be able to receive the necessary care to deal with it. I was unsure of what to expect, and I was scared of my body's potential limitations.
I went to bed last night at 9 and fell into a deep sleep. I woke up throughout the night and extended my hand across the bed- still convinced that I was somehow attached to a machine. I then would take a deep breath, picture myself wrapped in a cocoon of blankets, and fall back asleep. This morning when I finally woke up to face the day, I had tears streaming down my face. The fear of dying in my sleep was so palatable, so real, so terrifying, I couldn't speak.
Last night and this morning I felt as if I was staring at my own mortality. I let myself be overcome by fear and I was ashamed at the ease in which it happened.
On the 16th floor, while I was fighting for my life, I watched patients say goodbye and try to make peace with death. There is no doubt that watching this process affected me to the core. I still am trying to get the blank and hopeless stares from the bed ridden patients out of my head.
In the days to come, as I recuperate, and make peace with my new existence, I hope to let go of what I saw and heard, and face the day stronger. I realize that I can't be wonder woman every day, and I am allowed to have moments of doubt, weakness and fear. I just hope that I will learn to better manage these moments, prevent them from overwhelming me, and refocus quickly so I can get back to Killing this Cancer in the Butt!